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Thursday, February 26, 2009

It Should Not Hurt to be a Child

As part of a Lenten practice-the 40 Days for Life Campaign-I've decided that I would join a few others of our Sanctity of Life Committee at a local Planned Parenthood Facility to pray for the unborn once a week. Wednesday was my first visit to the 7th Avenue facility which, we hope through the efforts of our prayers, will someday be out of business. I expected to be one of maybe 2 people there but to my surprise, there were about 7 others present on the sidewalk of the avocado-green building; 3, from my parish. I arrived there late in the day, so the few cars that were driving in and out were "pick ups": moms or boyfriends there to drive their loved one home.

I'm not a total stranger to praying before an abortion clinic however I'm not a seasoned veteran of it either. The 2 other times that I've participated were Good Friday afternoons where Bishop Olmsted along with about 1200 faithful prayed the rosary (all of the mysteries!) in front of the main PP Facility in Phoenix. There was great safety in numbers. Yesterday afternoon was a little different, only in that I felt more vulnerable since there were fewer of us. A sketch of the reactions are as follows:

The Honkers: There were supportive & unsupportive honkers; finger showing or thumbing up and down were the observable traits. I judged 2 shorter beeps as being friendly to our cause while a long "laying on of the horn" as a condemnation. We waved at all. A Catholic priest drove by with a hearty holler. We also noticed the ash smudge on his forehead. That gave us great edification.
The Drunk: A very talkative man who was panhandling passed by. He read our sign and gave us "knuckles". I could not understand a lot of what he said, save for..."I may be an alcoholic, but I do know that THAT (as he motioned toward the Planned Parenthood bldg) is wrong!". He asked each of us for .30 cents. I gave him a blessed St. Terese medal which he deposited into the "special place" in his wallet.

The Young Couple: 2 young people holding hands emerged from the building. It did not appear that the woman was a client. (She was walking much too fast). Both were snickering as they passed and one member of our group said hello. The young man quickly responded that he was "going over to the store to get some (expletive) protection so that he didn't need to get one of these." I suddenly felt very sick for the young woman that he was with.

The Ironic License Plate: Many cars exited the parking lot of the PP building when I was there. One of them was of an employee that one member of our group recognized from earlier. We noticed that her license plate was one of the AZ themed plates with children's hands adorning its background with the following caption: "It should not hurt to be a child."

And there were the moms who aborted their babies. I saw a couple of them and I prayed for them. My heart broke for their incurable wound which concealed itself in a "simple surgical procedure", sold by trusted professionals and sanctioned by our constitution. There are many accomplices to this crime. Perhaps one day, she'll be able to see things from the other side.

Until then, I guess I'll come back next week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

One does wonder...

what goes through that little mind of his.

Couldn't we be allowed to give up Joe Biden for Lent?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Prayer on the Porch of Lent

O, Lord, You know the profound desire of my heart: to assimilate and unite myself to You in order to live Your life alone. If sublime states of prayer and flights of the spirit are not for me, the Cross is my share. You offer it to me and I embrace it with all my heart. I know that what is easily within my reach, what I encounter every day, what is most suitable and proportioned to my misery, is suffering, for no human life is without sorrow.

Lord, grant that in every suffering, physical as well as moral, I may be intimately associated with Your Passion, for the salvation of souls. Now that You are glorified at the right hand of the Father, You can no longer suffer. Deign, then, to suffer in me and to use my poor humanity to continue Your work of redemption.
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, Divine Intimacy

Lord, Bless our Lent.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Godly Humor

(by the way, Lent is coming...ok, there. I've joined the rabble!)

Now, let's not speed too far past today. The Gospel (Mk 2:1-12)talks about a group of guys who bring their sick friend to Jesus on a stretcher...through the roof. I'm sorry, but does anyone else out there notice the sheer comic value this scene promises? You just got to give these audacious boys some credit. Seeing the large group of folks gathered at the entrances of where the Master was preaching, they spy their entry route. Can you picture the group trying to get the guy up there to begin with? Did they hoist him and then throw the stretcher up? Did they hoist the stretcher and throw him? No wonder he wasn't talking to anyone by the time he "arrived".

And let's stop to pause at the grand entrance. Jesus, speaking on some relevent theme, shall we say, healing or forgiveness or repentance, and then...oh a little dust and straw can be seen filtering down from the ceiling rather unexpectedly. Maybe a board or two drop...ker-thud. Can the Lord remain straight-faced? The Gospel is a tad silent on the reaction of those gathered in the cramped meeting place. I would suspect some grumpies are agitated by now. Sorta how I get when someone's cell phone starts to play music during the readings. Ok, so the roof just opened and there are people trying to peek in. Well, they got their cheap seats, now back to the main Event. Hold on a second...these blokes are actually lowering a body down on...a stretcher? The gall! But wait...the Teacher isn't reprimanding them. No, he, he's stopping mid sentence and telling him something...what's this?
How DARE he say such blasphemies. Who is HE to forgive sins...oh...he's, he's looking right at me saying something. Naw, he must be talking to Elias here, next to me, but it's almost like he's boring a hole right into my soul with a question:
"Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk?'
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth"

I swear I thought I heard him just order this paralyzed guy to pick up his....I'll be darned. He's...he's on his FEET. He's WALKING! HE'S ON HIS FEET... WALKING! I've never seen such a thing. No one's going to believe this back at the temple. Not a soul.

And that smile on the Teacher's face? That smile....astounding.

Have We Gone Mad?

Patrick Madrid just posted this a few minutes ago...a sobering commentary on the state of affairs of the "Obamanation".

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Do You Know Who Wrote "Over the Rainbow?"

With guesses like Cole Porter and Geo. Gershwin, most music/movie buffs are dead wrong. I had the pleasure of tuning in to one of my fav morning talk shows yesterday to be treated to a segment on the music of the correct answer to this quesion; and if you guessed Harold Arlen, you would be correct! Arlen wrote some of the greatest hits from the 30s & 40s which include such musical delights as Stormy Weather, Get Happy, It's Only a Paper Moon, I've Got the World on a String, I love a Parade, and the entire score of The Wizard of Oz...just to name a few.

In the segment, I was interested to hear that Arlen felt that his music was a spiritual endeavor...sitting down at the piano bench to compose, he would pause, close both hands in prayer, and drift into melody. For the ballad piece that "Dorothy" would sing during the technicolor change in Oz, here is the excerpt to this song's birth from the Official Harold Arlen Website:

The song came to Harold literally out of the blue one day while he and Anya were headed to a movie at Grauman's Chinese Theater. As they were driving along Sunset Boulevard, the broad, long-lined melody suddenly came to him. He jotted it down in the car on one of his jotting papers, which he was known to carry around with him in case struck with an idea. Of the breakthrough, Harold said, "It was as if the Lord said, 'Well, here it is, now stop worrying about it!'"

Lyricist, E. Y. Harburg, had to be sold on the tune; he didn't feel that a 14-year old Kansas girl could sing such a grand ballad. Publishers didn't like the octave jump in the word "some-where" or the too-simplistic middle bridge. The song was deleted from the print of The Wizard of Oz three times! After each deletion Arthur Freed would storm into the front office and argue it back into the film. Freed and Arlen stood up to the powers-that-be and the song remained, ironically to later receive the Academy Award as the best film song of the year!

As we look back over the life of Harold Arlen, there is one feature that is puzzling... Arlen's songs were mentioned but his name was not credited. For example, probably the most offensive omission was in the press release for when Over the Rainbow was named the Number One Song of the 20th Century. The release never mentions Harold Arlen's name. It does, however, list the name of the composer of every other song mentioned in the article. How can such a prolific songwriter who has added so much to American music be so blatantly overlooked? Why is so little credit ever given to this man - an equal to great composers like Gershwin, Berlin and Porter and who was regarded as such by them as well?" I'm not really sure why. It was this way even during Harold's lifetime

Take, for instance, this interesting story Edward Jablonski includes in his book Harold Arlen: Happy with the Blues.

One day Harold was taking a taxicab ride cross-town in Manhattan. After he had settled in his seat, he found himself confronted by a classic situation. The cabby was whistling Stormy Weather, an Arlen standard dating back to the Thirties. It was an opportunity for experiment that the composer could not ignore.
"Do you know who wrote that song?" he asked the driver.
"Sure. Irving Berlin."
"Wrong," Arlen informed him, "but I'll give you two more guesses."
The cabby thought hard, and at times audibly if not understandably explaining that the name of the composer was on the tip of his tongue but he just couldn't come up with it.
Arlen prompted him: "Richard Rodgers?"
"That is the name I was thinking of," the cabby admitted, "but he's not the one."
"How about Cole Porter?"
" That's who!"
"No, you're wrong again," Arlen told him. "I wrote the song."
The cab darted across an intersection before the driver, still thinking, finally asked, "Who are you?"
"Harold Arlen."
At this the cabby turned around in his seat and asked, "Who"?

So next time I start feeling sorry for myself about not getting credit for a great idea, I'll think of my friend, Harold.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Study in Contrasts

My depiction of Pure Fashion would be incomplete if I didn't show you what we're up against:

Inspired by the latest film: The Cow Who Milked Me.

Another Way to Win the Culture War

Some of you may know that I've become quite excited about a radical formation program that began about 10 years ago in Atlanta that is taking the fashion industry by storm. Pure Fashion is its name and changing the world, one outfit at a time is its game and if you aren't familiar with what they do, you need to be.

Pure Fashion is a faith-based program that encourages teen girls, ages 14-18, to live, act, and dress in accordance with their dignity as children of God. Young women who join Pure Fashion are trained to become confident, competent leaders who live the virtues of modesty and purity in their schools and communities. Through an eight month Model Training Program that covers public speaking, manners and social graces, hair and make up artistry, personal presentation, and much more, Pure Fashion models learn the importance of living a life in accordance with God’s will and fostering a life of grace through purity of heart, mind, and body. The Pure Fashion program culminates in a city-wide fashion show featuring clothing that is pretty but not provocative, trendy but still tasteful.

Here's a sample of their "Creed"

We have a Passion for Pure Fashion!As Pure Fashion models, we believe:

That our private parts should remain private.
That undergarments should not become outer-garments.
That our bodies are holy and sacred and our clothing should not reveal what should be concealed.
That virtue is the most important must have for every season.
That being healthy, physically fit, clean and well groomed is always in style.
That we should support retailers, designers and magazines who support virtuous behavior.
That we can be pretty without being provocative.
That a real model is a "role model."
That our clothing sends a message to those around us and it should reflect our dignity as children of God.
That we can begin to change the world by changing our hearts, our minds and our clothes.

Topical discussions continue each month which include: What Guys Really Think; Mother Daughter Tea at the Ritz; Father/Daughter Dinner; Crisis Pregnancy Center Beautifation Day, Christmas Outreach Dinner Project to the Families of Maggie's Place and, um...THE SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA. This is where we take the girls out to the local malls and put the clothiers (and our candidates) to the test. They must purchase an outfit that meets the PF criteria. We give the flunky stores a "please try harder" card while we laud the efforts of our winner stores.

The formation program concludes with a Grand Finale Fashion Show where the models get to demonstrate what they've learned about beauty on the outside and beauty on the inside. Our Phoenix show has been scheduled for April 19th at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. It's been a great journey with these young girls so far. I am so impressed by their poise, confidence, dignity and the light of faith that emanates from each one of them. What a beautiful way to change the world.

Now isn't that.....refreshing!

Big Victory Comes in Small Packages

An update to the story on our 12-year old You Tube Sensation...turns out, her message saved at least one life. Way to go, Lia!

"Though 12-year-old Lia's popular pro-life presentation did not win a regional speech competition last night, she and her family are celebrating what they call the "best trophy ever" - the saving of an unborn life, after Lia's words convinced a stranger not to abort her child."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Amor Vincent Omnia

"No greater love has he than one who lays down his life for his friends." The miracle of love is the essence of self sacrifice. Demonstrated for us down through the ages, this singular concept has emerged as the most fundamental reflection of Godly love.

Doing a little research, legend has it that the Roman Emperor, Claudius sought to ban marriages in order to build up his army. Valentine, a priest, flouted the ban and performed marriages in secret. He was executed for his treachery on February 14 in the year 270A.D. We aren't certain of the validity of this story, however, Christians have adopted it as the vessel upon which all the hearts, flowers and chocolates hitch a ride.

Why is love a miracle? Because total self-sacrifice goes against our human nature. Self annihilation just isn't what we do. Therefore, it must be supernatural. Where do we get this supernature? None other than Christ who gave us the example with His Very Self.

The thing we Christians celebrate today most of all is our martyr-laden past. Our practice of faith was purchased with blood and cost other's their lives. We are lovers because we were first God. And we would hope, if need be, that we would follow the supernatural example of Jesus and lay down our lives for Him or for our brother.
Happy Valentine's Day...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Need a break from the Spendulus Frenzy?

Alrighty then, let's see what office supply you are. This is fun and easy to share. (and btw, who wouldn't do best when work feels like play?) I'm glad I'm not a calculator.

You Are a Whiteboard

You are a dreamer, a visionary, and a straight up idea person. You are very creative.

Even if the things you think up are a bit wacky, they often are brilliant.

You are an adept problem solver. You are always tossing around dozens of ideas.

You would make a good artist, designer, or architect. You do best when work feels like play.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Better to Suffer Evil than Inflict It.

That's it. That's my new favorite quote of the day, month, who knows, maybe year. I picked it up yesterday at the Arizona Right to Life Seminar: Abortion, Inside the Choice. It was a 6 hour seminar that put the tools and arguments behind the right to life movement at our disposal. We were given the chance to role play and totally disseminate the trainers with our best Pro-Abortion lines we could muster. (I wasn't always Pro-Life). Let me tell you - they held their own! Our trainers were young folks in their early 20s who had been in the "Circus Maximus" of their college campuses and held the line on the Pro-Life defense. I am proud of them for reaching out and conducting the Pro-Life Leadership Training Seminars in parishes across the valley. What I am noticing about the changing face of the Pro-life movement is this: we seem to be saying one message in two totally different ways. Let me explain. The older generation Pro-Lifer in many resepcts comes from a time where shoulds and shouldn'ts were taken seriously; where obedience was valued far more than equality; where there was value and dignity in honest work and serving one's country and where the words "family values" are not snickered at but embraced and respected. The Neo Pro-Lifers come from a dramatically different situation in most cases. They have learned the language of "tolerance"; that there are many options to married life (and that usually being last on the list), of very short attention spans due to the myriad of distractions and devices that vie for their attention; and they seem to have a "theraputic" way of addressing problems and finding solutions. I am not making a value judgment here, I am point out, however that a difference exists and that there needs to be a way to speak the same language to the men & women who are in a bad place and who seem to think that abortion is their best option.

A very good issue was raised about why there seemed to be an admonishment towards Pro-lifers to discourage us from being strong-spirited and "in your face". "They do it to us, why can't we do it to them", is the retort. The answer is plain. We must speak the truth in love. The only thing we accomplish by being "in the face of" our brother or sister, is to cause them to distrust us and our values. We must be honest, professional, rational and loving, even in the face of distorion and vile hatred of what we represent. The men and women seeking abortion as the answer to their problems have more problems than meet the eye. They lash out in offensive ways because they are scared and because they have not faced up to the reality of a God who loves them and loves them so much not to leave them that way. Pro-Lifers need to carry a message of hope and love - Christ's abundant love - to those in darkness. We've defended our position in fits and starts for almost a generation while we have watched millions of babies die in the name of "rights". The game has changed. It is time to be offensive but offensive only in the football sense! We have to get past the line of scrimmage and we have to do it in love.

"There is no fear in love; perfect love casts out fear..."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

bye Dawn

Several posts ago I asked you to pray for my friend, Dawn, suffering with a cancer that literally ravaged her over the course of 2 and a half years. Our prayers for her have been answered (just not as we had hoped), and last week she lost her hard-fought battle. Dawn was 41, with a loving husband and three sons: a freshman in HS, a middle-schooler and a first grader. This kind of pain just stabs you. Dawn was one of our employees for many years until she could no longer work due to the disease. She was a hard worker and always went the extra mile (sometimes literally!) to pick up the surveys that needed to be input. She never complained. She loved her husband and her kids. She didn't want to die, and in fact, made a big stink about not wanting to look like a quitter. I didn't ever think Dawn was a quitter. I admired her and respected her.

Dawn was a hockey mom and true to form, the NDP Team showed up at Mass today wearing their hockey jerseys in support of the Family. It was an amazing scene. One of the seniors on the team also lost his mom when he was 5. He's taking Will under his wing. Proof to me once more that God will always draw good out of bad. (And yes, those big tough boys do cry). There's more to this story that has not been written yet. Today we are left with our tears and the empty pain of loss. The Gospel that was chosen though was the story of Lazarus...and we know how that ends. The veil that separated has been torn asunder. I know this and believe this. I'm still sad. I know God understands.
I will miss you Dawn.

I can see Gallup from my kitchen window...

Dear Catholics of the Diocese of Gallup,

Score a big one for our neighbors to the East! You don't realize it yet, but you are blessed to have a gem in your new Bishop-Elect, Jim Wall from the hometeam here in Phoenix. I know Bp.-Elect Wall to be a serene, affable and holy man of God. Don't let the age thing fool you...he has the wisdom and leadership ability to back it up. And, anyone brave & patient enough to "parent" a boxer already has a few good things going for him.

We will miss you Bishop Wall.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pro-Life Students Charged with Trespassing Over Display

Dear University of Calgary Students,
Please consider this a personal invitation to come to the great state of Arizona. I love your style.

Your Neighbors to the South

PS: In the USA, freedom of speech is not yet outlawed.

Calgary, Feb 2, 2009 / 09:28 pm (CNA).- At least three pro-life students have been charged with trespassing for setting up a graphic abortion display in November at the University of Calgary against university demands. The students who exhibited the display, called the “Genocide Awareness Project” (GAP), recently received summons to appear in court and must enter a plea by the end of February.

Besides the legal action the university is taking against its students, the pro-lifers are being threatened with suspension or expulsion for “non-academic misconduct.”

The accused students, members of the Campus Pro-Life Club (CPL) set up the GAP display on Nov. 26 and 27 of 2008. The display includes large color photographs of abortion and compares abortion to other atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide.

According to the CPL, the GAP display had been set up on campus six times since 2006 without incident. In 2006 and 2007, the University had protected the club’s right to erect the display under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The CPL argues that the university’s recent change of heart exposes a “double standard.” The students point out that the university has not taken action against other students or groups who use shocking photographs to communicate their message. In fact, according to CPL, during the time the GAP exhibit was on display, another group’s display showed “disturbing” photographs of atrocities committed by the Chinese government against the supporters of Falun Gong, a Chinese religious group.

Furthermore, “the university has extended generous tolerance towards campus pro-choice groups, even when engaged in the physical blocking of the pro-life display,” the CPL said in a statement.

At a press conference on Monday, CPL President Leah Hallman described the aims of the GAP, saying “This project seeks to remove the semantics which surround justification of abortion by using photographic proof. It is for this that we are now locked in a legal struggle.”

She noted the University of Calgary’s stated commitment to free inquiry and debate, to act as a community of scholars, to lead and inspire societal development and to respect, appreciate and encourage diversity.

“The lofty ideals and noble sentiments expressed in these simple but eloquent phrases resonate throughout the fibers of our society. In fact, to a large degree, a society’s commitment to freedom can be measured by the strictness of their adherence to these principles,” Hallman observed.

In this light, she commented, the university’s legal actions against CPL were “ironic.”

“It is a double standard when an institution dedicated to unfettered thought ruthlessly silences those who disagree with them,” Hallman charged. “Double standards such as these are not healthy for a society built on liberty and dedicated to equality.”

She characterized the summons as “a blatant attack on the spirit of free speech.”

“We await with indifference the outcome of this trial, for we but did what our consciences bid us do. To have done otherwise would not be worthy of the legacy of Canada and of freedom,” her statement concluded.

Speaking with CNA in a phone interview on Monday, Hallman said three people had been charged with “trespass to premises” but six people had their names and contact information taken down.

“They’ve been issuing the summons over a period of time,” Hallman explained. “We’re expecting all six to be served.”

She said the students are planning to contest the charges in court.

“We are a little bit surprised because we did have hope still that the university would uphold our right to be there.

“They had warned us. We weren’t overly shocked, but we were very disappointed,” Hallman said.

CPL’s web site is located at

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Funnies

"Hearing a nun's confession is like being stoned to death with popcorn." --Abp. Fulton Sheen